Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Positive vibes

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
"What's up, P?" I'm truly glad to see her, even though it usually takes all the energy I can muster to be cheerful at 7:30 in the morning. I wonder if she needs to have another serious talk about all she's been struggling with. I'm always honored to be someone that my students feel they can come to anytime.
Welcome to room A2! Looks like fun, right?

"I just came to get some positive vibes from your room!" She shrugs, grins, and plops down at the little table beside my desk. "I get really depressed in the morning, you know, and I just... I don't know, I love your room, I don't know why."
I'm quite proud that my room looks more like an elementary room than a high school room!

"I'm so glad! Mornings are rough, and I work really hard to make my room a happy and comfortable place for you guys!"

"I just love all the colors you have in here, and it makes me feel so positive, and you know, sometimes I just feel like I can't... but then I come in here, and I love all the things you have... I thought that if I could come here in the morning, I could start my day feeling better!"

A community of readers...

"Aw, thanks, P. That's a great idea! I'm excited that I'll get to see you in the mornings now!" And I really am. What better way to start each day than with a reminder of what really matters?

...and a community of writers!
I've been quoting Stephen Krashen about the importance of a low affective filter since grad school, but it's really much more simple than that: I love my kids, and I want them to be happy in my room. And nothing means more than knowing they realize that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

Life in a high school is a whirlwind, especially as an ELL teacher who is also one of the go-to Spanish speakers in the building. Testing, meetings, subs, unexpected parent drop-ins, medical emergencies... oh, and there's also some teaching and grading in there somewhere. 

Some days, it's not hard to lose sight of what's really important. But luckily, there are also plenty of reminders if you watch closely.


"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about your reading?" I end the conference with my usual invitation, and B.'s dark eyes light up as he nods.

His lanky body straightens from its usual folded position. "This is the first time in my life I've enjoyed reading!" I grin, and he continues. "I mean, I never liked reading. I'd get in trouble and my dad would make me read a book, but I never liked it. But I like this book! I like the exciting adventure, and I want to know what will happen next!" 


"I put my "one little word" post up again if you want to re-read it as you work." I start to circulate as the kids log into their Chromebooks.

"I don't need to read it again," E. tells me softly. "I remember everything you wrote, because I'm working on the same things."

"I know," I assure her. "And I'm so proud of how hard you are working."


She brought this dress back
from Mexico for my baby!
"I'm so glad you're back!" As I hug P, I make sure my eyes hold a spark that show her that I really mean it. After she missed an extra week of school visiting her mom in Mexico, I am truly excited to see her. And knowing the struggles she's been going through this year, I'm so happy to see a girl who truly looks refreshed and ready to keep fighting.

"I am too!" She's practically bouncing. "I just really like this class. Like, when I get here in the afternoon, I'm like, oh good, I'm finally here!" 

From the way she holds onto problems until she spills them all to me, I already knew that. But it's still nice to hear. 

Growing readers. 
Writing that matters.
Building community.

That's what matters, and I'm so glad that's what anchors every day in my classroom, no matter what else happens.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

one little word 2016: strong

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

4 little words.

4 years of reflection, observation, and determination.
4 years of having a simple, powerful, and positive way to keep encouraging myself to improve my life throughout the year.

In class today, my students and I read about the history of New Year's Resolutions, and we learned that January is named for Janus, the Roman god with two faces who could look backward and forward at the same time. That's exactly how I felt as I chose my word this year: I found my word by looking to the past year and the upcoming one together. 

Becoming a mom has helped me take control of my life in a way that I was never able to do before. I wondered how I'd ever do it all, when my life had always been so consumed with work. How could I ever be a good mom AND a good teacher at the same time?! But through lots of hard work, I have found that balance I could never make myself achieve... by learning to take care of myself. I've learned that the only way to be my very best self is to refuse to ignore my self-care. And magically, I'm solving that great puzzle of who I am.

I'm proud to announce my fifth "one little word", my word for 2016: STRONG
created on my iPad with Drawing Desk and Font Candy!
I decided to use a color scheme that would remind me of seeing the sky.
This year, my students are joining me on the "one little word" journey, and I wrote the rest of this post in front of them over the course of my classes today.

I resolve to be mentally strong
I will write on my blog every Tuesday. I will read at least 5 days a week. I will practice my Spanish by reading, writing, and speaking in Spanish as much as I can! I will speak in Spanish to my baby often. I will use relaxing strategies to stop worrying. For example, if I start to worry, I will go for a walk, look out the window, listen to music, or cuddle with my baby! I will focus on positive thoughts by noticing all the beauty and blessings around me and being thankful. I will continue to reflect on my life and my teaching to find the best ways to improve myself.

I resolve to be physically strong
I will do hard exercise (running, elliptical machine, or lifting weights) at least 2 days a week. I will also take my baby for a walk at least 1 other day a week. I will drink plenty of water. I will only drink pop 1 time a week. I will make healthier food choices with more fruits and vegetables.

I resolve to be emotionally strong
I will continue to love deeply by showing my family, my friends, and my students that they matter and I care about them. I will work to create special memories with my baby, my husband, and my parents. I will challenge myself to try new things, push myself out of my comfort zone, and be brave to work for what I believe in. I will forgive others and strive to understand their points of view. I will try not to take setbacks or criticism too personally, while still holding on to the insights my sensitive nature gives me. I will encourage myself and give myself the grace I give others, instead of being too hard on myself when I'm not perfect. I will give myself a break sometimes, and be ok with that.

I will be STRONG.